Clarke and Clegg to establish commission on new Bill of Rights

If the United Kingdom pulled out of the European Convention on Human Rights – as some right-wing Tories are demanding – it would be the first country to do so since a junta of neo-fascist colonels seized power in Greece in the 1960s, the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke warned yesterday.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: This is still a man's world

There are men in parliament who cannot accept that they have to share space with politicians in bras

Leading article: Cameron's shaky grip

It is becoming harder to escape the growing realisation that the Prime Minister's supposed virtues might be vices. The collegiate chairman of the Cabinet, who delegates to his ministers and floats above the fray, is beginning to look like a broad-brush front man who has been forced into a series of U-turns to limit the damage caused by his inattention to detail. The well-meaning advocate of greater civic responsibility and collective sacrifice is beginning to look like someone who thinks that the Big Society is for the little people. The leader who wants to be the heir to Blair, but to learn from Tony Blair's self-confessed failure to press ahead with reform quickly enough in his first term, is beginning to look like someone urging his ministers to rush into changes that they have not thought through and about which he finds out too late.

Ministers delay badger cull policy

The Government is to delay its decision on whether to allow a cull of badgers in England as part of efforts to control TB in cattle.

Spelman's forest U-turn: 'We got this one wrong'

Caroline Spelman issued an extraordinary apology yesterday as she scrapped plans to sell off England's forests, telling MPs: "I'm sorry, we got this one wrong." The Environment Secretary's act of public contrition helped to calm the political storm the Government provoked with its controversial scheme to offload 637,000 acres of woodlands from public ownership. Tory MPs, who had joined a national protest campaign that united countryside groups and all shades of political opinion, rallied around the embattled minister as she confirmed the policy U-turn.

Protesters celebrate forests U-turn

Charities across the UK have welcomed the decision, announced today by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, to abandon controversial plans to privatise England's public forests.

Forest farce: Cameron to axe sell-off policy

The highly contentious plans for a £250m sale of England's forests will be abandoned because of the furious backlash that has hit the Government.

Michael McCarthy: Our climate isn't the only green concern

This Government has conflated "the environment" with climate change; the rest is forgotten

Rethink on sale of nature reserves

The Government is considering scrapping plans to sell many of England's nature reserves following a growing backlash against its proposed sale of all state-owned forests.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Greenest government ever – that's a sick joke

Some false ideas need robustly confronting, and never more so than when they are enshrined in slogans, as slogans can develop a power of their own, almost an independent life; and such a one is the idea that the administration of David Cameron is going to be "the greenest government ever." This phrase, first uttered by the Prime Minister in a speech to civil servants last May, has now become a mantra and is regularly trotted out as an earnest of the Government's good environmental intentions, almost as if it had been a manifesto commitment. Yet, based on what the Government is actually doing, it is so far from the truth as to be risible, and it needs to be demolished; or better, it needs to be shot with a silver bullet and buried in a lead coffin at a crossroads with a stake through its heart, just in case any minister has the brass neck to try to resurrect it.

The Sketch: Labour's druid heralds vocal fightback to save England's ancient trees

The first time I was aware of Mary Creagh she was a woman who looked like a boy. "Best of both worlds," the sketch said. "It's the third way. She'll prosper in New Labour." Then she ran a campaign for the regulation of freelance dance teachers, or having to get a license to smack your children, or – I've got it now – making it illegal for bathwater to be hotter than 38 degrees. There or thereabouts. She thanked me for my support, I remember. She had talent, you see.

Britain's forests are being sold off - and nature lovers are up in arms

Peter Marren meets the people whose livelihoods may face the axe

Water meters could be made compulsory in all British homes

Ministers hope to cut use, but Tory MP admits that the vulnerable may see 'significant rises' in bills

Dale Farm: The battle to save Britain’s biggest traveller community

The entrance to Dale Farm looks more like a fortress than a settlement these days. The largest traveller site in Europe, which sits on the outskirts of Basildon, is preparing for its biggest stand-off yet.

Leading article: Safeguard the wood and the trees

It is a measure of the lack of trust in modern politics that no one seems to believe the Environment Secretary when she says that England's forests will be safe in the hands of private owners if the Government goes ahead with selling them off. A sale would be bad for wildlife and restrict public access to the land, the public feels. The minister, Caroline Spelman, says measures will be put in place to prevent that. But 75 per cent of voters polled oppose the plan to sell off half our forests in the largest change of land ownership since the Second World War. And there is more to this than a romantic attachment to the idea of Britain's ancient woodlands.

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What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

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Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

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